Things to know about oak framing – Part 3

February 1, 2017

With the New Year well under way, you may be thinking about your goals for this year, so if embarking on your own self-build project is on your list, why not read our latest installment of our ‘Things to know about oak framing’ series. If you happened to miss the previous blog posts, click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

1. Oak framing is a modern method of construction

Oak frame has been a prevalent construction material for thousands of years, so many would believe the construction process would be just as traditional. In fact, oak framing is known as a modern method of construction, due to the process of ‘off-site prefabrication’. This means that the oak frames are constructed off-site, transported to the site and then erected usually in under a week, depending on the scale and complexity of the build.

The process of building with oak frame has also modernised over the years, with more effective materials being used. Infill panels were traditionally filled with wattle and daub, then later bricks were used, but today the frame is usually encapsulated within an insulated airtight envelope using SIPs (structural insulated panels), which are also prefabricated off-site.

SIPs have been created mainly in order to meet Building Regulations, and they are quickly becoming the encapsulation system of choice for builders using oak frame. They form an effective thermal envelope around the frame, which helps to retain the heat within the property, a great benefit for renovators concerned over energy efficiency and sustainability.

2.  Making the grade

The European standard EN 975-1 (2009) is used to grade the appearance of oak sawn timber. This is a useful benchmarking basis for the selection of oak which is used in the structure of oak frames.

The standard uses characters to grade the oak, the first character represents the initial of the Latin name Quercus, meaning oak. The second character indicates the type of product, for example B, boules, F, strips and square edged timber and P for beams.

The QB & QF ranges are used for appearance grading, whereas the QP range is used for defining the grade of structural oak. However, this standard only goes part way to defining a more refined level of quality that is used in the selection of oak for our frames.

Through many years of experience we have created a standard that is unique to us at Welsh Oak Frame, whereby the grade required is higher than any of the standards issued within the European regulations.

The most important factor for us is predicting what will happen to the raw material as it dries out. We have developed numerous details within our designs which revolve entirely around the knowledge of what will occur to the oak over time. When using green oak, shrinkage is a guaranteed factor, and this can be expected to reach as much as 10% of the cross sectional dimension, so designing a system which can accommodate this phenomena is the key to success.

3. Oak frame suppliers provide different levels of service   

When creating your dream home, it’s important that you can work with a design team that fully understand your vision and exactly what you want to achieve with your project. It’s also important that you make a decision as to how involved in the build you want to be, as this can often influence your choice of supplier.

Welsh Oak Frame has an expert team on hand to guide you through all the aspects of the self-build process. In terms of services, we provide a free initial consultation, an affordable design fee with no obligation to engage with our building services, a full in-house design service, building regulation drawings and an interactive frame design service, which turns your designs into a fully interactive model. From there, we produce hand-finished, bespoke oak frames by our team of highly skilled craftsmen which can be erected by our team of experienced carpenters.

We are also happy to work with your chosen architects or builders if you already have plans in place, and our in-house team will work closely with you throughout this exciting, yet at times daunting task. We work with a range of different professionals and associated trades so you can create your dream home in the way that is right for you.

For more information on the services we offer, call 01686 688000 or visit our Facebook page @WelshOakFrame.